Commitment to Youth in 2019


2018 was a landmark year for League of Innovators. With a broadened scope and a new set of audacious goals in mind we needed to scale (quickly) in order to meet our objectives. In 2018 we nearly doubled our team and went across the country to engage with thousands of young people in a wide variety of communities and settings.  After launching Canada's first virtual accelerator for youth, expanding our local Connector Hubs and running Crash Courses + events in 8 cities, 2018 marked a year of validation, growth and yes - impact. By the numbers:

  • 29 ventures and 52 youth founders graduated through LOI Labs in 2018

  • 777 youth took part in LOI Crash Courses

  • 3100 youth reached through community outreach events

  • 300 youth enrolled in Digital Learning courses

  • 13 Connector Hubs were established across Canada

  • Countless conversations about the future of work and entrepreneurship for youth

We developed, we built, and we executed but most importantly we learned. It is not easy being a non profit start up in an ever noisy space but what has become  abundantly clear is the urgent need for change and innovation in education and support mechanisms for youth transitioning into their career. Now more than ever we need to create the systems and opportunities to truly prepare our youth for a future that is yet to be written. Now that our feet our wet, we’re ready to dive in in 2019 and amplify our impact.

As we explore what the world looks like for youth, we know they are facing challenges, obstacles, and questions no other generation has faced before as world economics, politics, climate change effects, societal unrest and technological advances all create more pressure  for future generations.

So how is this all playing out? Within this increasingly competitive world we are seeing increasing numbers of youth struggling with a variety of mental health issues as they progress from high school to post secondary institutions and career choices. Add to that some of the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment for youth in decades sprinkled with the consuming pressures of social media and the ubiquitous  digital world encroaching on our daily lives.

How can we prepare our youth and provide them with the skills and tools they need, without feeling they need to fall back on old systems to succeed? Part of the solution is creative and experienced based opportunities that don't rely or mimic traditional classroom learning, but rather the real world, real questions and real lived experiences. By bringing the entrepreneurial mindset into the classroom, and the curious student into the entrepreneurial world organizations like LOI can leverage the support of corporate and individual partners to bridge the gap between education and industry.

We don't want (or need) to replace classrooms - we want to enhance them. We don’t want to eliminate teachers -  but support them with the resources they need to prepare the next generation. We don't want to create in a vacuum -  we want to co-create meaningful content and experiences which create a change in perspective.

As Kara Swisher noted: “we need the next wave of innovation, and we need it now”. At League of Innovators we are continuing our commitment to change the face of entrepreneurship and usher in the next generation of leaders. In 2019, we want to see more youth build the futures they want to see in this world. We want to create more meaningful experiences for those young people by co-creating with them and supporting them. We want to build scalable models of learning that are relevant for those that they are built for, while ensuring that the hard working educators are not excluded from this equation but empowered. And we want to share the many stories of youth entrepreneurs forging their paths on their own terms, to showcase their journeys and spark those entrepreneurial fires all across the country.

If you want to see youth succeed, whether you are a business, an educator, a parent, a mentor, an entrepreneur,  or a young person with entrepreneurial aspirations - hit us up and hold us to it. We want to create a better future through entrepreneurship - together.

Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber